Tag Archives: Anthony Mackie

Avengers: Endgame (2019) Blu Ray Movie Review By D.M. Anderson

Avengers: Endgame Review

Directors: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
Writers: Christopher Markus (screenplay by), Stephen McFeely (screenplay by)
Stars: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Don Cheadle, Paul Rudd, Brie Larson, Benedict Cumberbatch, Chadwick Boseman, Tom Holland, Karen Gillan, Zoe Saldana, Evangeline Lilly, Bradley Cooper, Josh Brolin, Chris Pratt, Tilda Swindon, Dave Bautista, Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Elizabeth Olsen, Tessa Thompson, Benedict Wong

The major downside to catching Avengers: Endgame in theatres was the risk of subjecting my bladder to irreparable damage. In my younger days, simply holding-it for three hours was no big challenge. Back in college, I even once participated in a drinking challenge where we’d see who could go the longest without relieving ourselves. I didn’t win, but did manage to make it almost four hours.

Those were different times and Endgame is a different type of epic. We’ve all sat through three-hour films before, but thanks to the Infinity War’s open-ended resolution and plethora of unanswered questions – not-to-mention a year’s worth of fan theories and speculation – taking a bathroom break would risk missing a key scene, plot twist or revelation. I’ll give the Russo Brothers credit for one thing: Every scene in Endgame feels vital at the time, making it a tough movie to walk away from, even for a moment.

At the showing my family and I attended, not a single theatregoer got up to leave once the film started. Afterwards, the continuous sound of flushing toilets echoed throughout the lobby for five straight minutes. I, for one, made the mistake of buying a soda before the movie, which I began the regret around the 90 minute mark. By the third act, my screaming bladder made it a challenge to fully immerse myself the film’s numerous emotional payoffs.

So despite being a fitting, larger-than-life capper to Marvel’s 22-film story arc, Endgame ultimately plays better at home, at least for those of us not endowed with iron bladders. In addition to reacquainting myself with the story thus-far by revisiting Infinity War beforehand, seeing Endgame a second time – able to hit pause when nature called – was far more enjoyable.

While I still loathe the practice of stretching a single story across multiple movies, Endgame justifies its existence – and length – due to the sheer number of characters, story threads and loose ends to tie in a manner that meets expectations of legions of MCU fans. A taunting task, to be sure, which Endgame manages to pull off. The film remembers its past while acknowledging the future, and is well-aware of the finality its title suggests (for the story arc and some major characters). In that respect, Endgame pushes all the right emotional buttons.

But unlike the original Star Wars trilogy’s most iconic moments, Endgame meets expectations without really ever exceeding them. As viewers, we already have a laundry list of plot points awaiting explanation, questions to be answered and characters’ odds of living or dying. All those boxes are checked-off – often magnificently, sometimes poignantly – but there aren’t any revelations as jaw-dropping as learning who Luke’s father is. And even at three hours, there are simply too many characters for everyone to get adequate screen time (some don’t even appear until the climax). Fans of certain characters will inevitably be disappointed by what amounts to a cameo.

However, those are minor quips. Endgame is ultimately a slam-bang crescendo to this massive franchise, the likes of which we won’t likely see again for a long time. While sweeping and epic in scope, it’s still filled with the smaller, character-driven moments that have always made the MCU engaging (something DC is just now figuring out). I’ve personally never met anyone disappointed by the outcome. I’m sure they’re out there, but maybe their bladders were simply too full to enjoy it the first time.

Avengers: Infinity War (2018) Blu-Ray Movie Review By D.M. Anderson

Avengers Infinity War

Directors: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
Writers: Christopher Markus (screenplay by), Stephen McFeely (screenplay by) 
Stars Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Benedict Cumberatch, Don Cheadle, Tom Holland, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Chris Pratt, Dave Bautista, Zoe Saldana, Karen Gillan, Bradley Cooper, Josh Brolin, Pom Klementieff, Benedict Wong

The dust has settled, the hype has died down, the fanboys have scrutinised every frame and Avengers: Infinity War has already raked in $2 billion worldwide. Now it’s time to take a deep breath, look beyond the spectacle and obligatory fan-service to assess what is still essentially half a movie (though it’s still a lot better than Age of Ultron). 

I’ve always been pretty dubious over the practice of dividing a single story into two or more separate films. I understood Quentin Tarantino’s motives behind Kill Bill Volumes 1 & 2 because they were stylistically different. But two Breaking Dawns, two Mockingjays and three freaking Hobbits were just greedy, cynical cash-grabs calculated to prey on fans whose commitment to their beloved franchises gave them no choice but to open their wallets one more time than necessary.

But after seeing Infinity War twice now (once in theatres with everyone else, the second time for this Blu-ray review), I have to grudgingly concede that the decision to make it two movies might be justified (I’ll reserve a final verdict until next year). As it stands, this film has an unenviable task: Include nearly every major MCU character, work them into the film without regulating anyone to a gratuitous cameo while still moving the new story forward (“new” is relative, though…longtime fans have been aware of this coming war for years). 

For the most part, the film is successful, mainly because Marvel has done a pretty masterful job of laying the groundwork during the past decade of MCU movies. So when Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) engages in verbal chest-thumping with Thor (Chris Hemsworth), the story doesn’t need to spend time establishing their personalities the way a stand-alone film must. Speaking of which, the film’s best moments are when these iconic characters are meeting each other for the first time. Those involving one-or-more of the Guardians of the Galaxy are predictably the funniest, and sometimes surprisingly moving.

The downside, of course, is that anyone not fully up-to-speed with the doings in the MCU will be completely lost. Sure, they could (mostly) follow the story, maybe even a few of the subplots, but will have absolutely no emotional stake in any of these characters. And there’s no other film in the MCU that depends more on the audience’s investment in its characters than Infinity War (especially during the final act).

Even without the burden of character exposition, bringing them all together convincingly takes a considerable amount of time (which Infinity War does by presenting three concurrent subplots). Could the rising action leading to its epic climax have been trimmed-up a bit? Absolutely. Infinity War is occasionally meandering and apocalyptic battles are so standard in this franchise that simply making them longer doesn’t necessarily make them grander. However, the story doesn’t feel gratuitously padded just to squeeze-out two movies. Casual viewers may be impatiently checking their watches after ninety minutes, but it goes without saying that anyone who loves these characters won’t want it to end. 

But end it does, with whopper of a cliffhanger that’s more Empire Strikes Back than An Unexpected Journey. In other words, the story may be incomplete, but not the experience. And if all 18 of the previous entries in the MCU can be considered converging roads leading up to this moment, then perhaps two movies is justified. I guess we’ll all know for sure next year.

Until then, because of its size, scope, references to past events and plethora of Easter eggs, Infinity War makes better repeated viewing at home than the usual superhero film. Nobody but the most dedicated fanboys would be capable of catching everything the first time. On a related note, I’m sort-of surprised at how light this Blu-ray is on supplemental material. The featurettes are entertaining, but mostly promotional and pretty short compared to those included on many other Disney/Marvel releases. 

Triple 9 (2016) Movie Review by Darrin Gauthier

TRIPLE 9

Director: John Hillcoat
Writer: Matt Cook
Stars: Casey Affleck, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Anthony Mackie

‪Plot:  A gang of criminals and corrupt cops plan the murder of a police officer in order to pull off their biggest heist yet across town.‬
‪Running Time: 1 hour 55 minutes ‬
‪Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics 53%   Audience 42%‬

‪Why I watched it: The cast.  Pure and simple.‬
‪Thoughts: This film is loaded cast wise, it’s funny how this doesn’t seem to work, truly not enough time for everyone, when movies have this kind of cast someone always gets short changed.‬

‪What I liked: The main set up that cops are trying to pull off a heist and would kill one of their own to make it happen.  Very film noir like that is.  The film is dark and dirty and the technical stuff is good, it’s shot well and the sound is good.‬
‪Sadly there’s not many actors who I can point out to giving good performances most are fine but I guess the one stand out is Woody Harrelson, he doesn’t need good writing he’ll flesh out a character on his own, his character is a tad over the top but he’s the best thing in the movie he’s the one guy you’re not sure of, everyone else is a stock character, he’s the wild card and the most fun one to watch it.‬

‪What I didn’t like: I really didn’t care for this movie and it kind of pissed me off, it’s a mean spirited and really cliched film.  How can you make a boring film with all those actors, I lay the blame at the feet of director John Hillcoat, it’s clear he didn’t know what to do with some of the characters, Gal Gadot is merely eye candy here, she’s barely got a role, she’s a plot point at best, the future Wonder Women and they give her nothing.

Mackie is wasted here as well, he’s a good actor and is given nothing to do, I have no idea what he was about he was just there to move the plot along.  The worst performance has to be Kate Winslet with her “Moose and Squirrel” Russian accent, she’s almost laughable, she’s trying so hard to be the villain here and fails better bad.  Ejiofor seems lost, he has two facial expressions in this movie, confusion and anger, that’s it.  His character makes the least amount of sense, he wants to see his son, and he’s corrupt  for who knows what reasons. ‬

‪The script is a mess and by the end it makes no sense, characters turn, people die and for what?  I haven’t a clue and the sad thing is I didn’t care the film was over long and boring, you can’t have this type of movie and have almost every character unlikable, it doesn’t work, the tension isn’t there cause we don’t care what happens to these people.‬

‪Final Thoughts: This film kind of came and went and for me it was a huge disappointment, I really liked the cast and the set up but man it was just a bad film from start to finish.‬

‪Rating: 2/10‬

The Night Before (2015) Movie Review by Stephen McLaughlin

THE NIGHT BEFORE

Director: Jonathan Levine
Writers: Jonathan Levine (screenplay), Kyle Hunter (screenplay)
Stars: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, Anthony Mackie, Jillian Bell, Michael Shannon, Lizzy Caplan, Heléne Yorke

“The Night Before” is set on Christmas eve with three lifelong friends Ethan (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), Isaac (Seth Rogen) and Chris (Anthony Mackiespend) spending the night in New York City looking for the Holy Grail of Christmas parties. Unfortunately for Ethan, as time has gone on, both Isaac and Chris although possibly not maturing have lives of their own. Chris has become a very famous athlete living most of his personal life on live broadcasting via social media and Isaac is now married and him and his wife are expecting their first born. Ethan on the other hand is living on nostalgia and hides away from commitment and responsibility and is determined to have the night of their lives on their final Christmas eve.

The film is about the changes in people’s lives as they get older and hanging onto nostalgia can hold you back from living your life. This is mostly the case with Ethan played by the brilliant and charismatic Joseph Gordon-Levitt who as a young boy lost both his parents around the Christmas holidays and through his best friends Isaac and Chris became their own little family watching out for each other in their younger days. Every Christmas Eve they would play out their ritual of very funny antics.

Although technically a Christmas movie “The Night Before” is a comedy film in the same mold as Pineapple Express (2008) some folk might say a “Stoner Comedy” but I feel that term doesn’t complement the storyline. The plot itself is about these three friends all living different lives and have their insecurities about their futures. Although Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character Ethan is supposed to be the main focus, I felt Isaac (Rogen) was the show stealer and in two particulars scenes involving a “talking” baby in a church and the nativity set outside the church. Gordon-Levitt is given top billing and the storyline focuses around his character that serves mostly as a master of ceremonies.

Ethan has issues committing to his ex girlfriend that he realises needs more than he thought. Isaac appears to be very straight laced at the beginning of the movie which surprised me with Seth Rogen restraining himself from his usual outrageous performances. Nevertheless, we don’t have to wait long to see this character unfold after his wife gives him a box of pick n mix assorted drugs as a one night only gift. Unfortunately although hysterical, the character overshadows the other two and in more ways Chris played by Anthony Mackiespend. Don’t get me wrong Mackiespend is fantastic as the more successful of the three but underlines the insecurities that come with his found fame.

I can’t let this review go without mentioning the brilliant Michael Shannon as Mr. Green. I’ve never seen a character who is unsettling but at the same time soothing. He is of course the guy you go to for some weed but although playing the stoner there is also something quite philosophical about his character and although used perfectly in his role. I still wanted to see more of this madman.

As far as “The Night Before” goes, it’s more than just a comedy. The sentimental element is there that is traditional with the holiday season. Perhaps it doesn’t have those memorable lines or scenes that other holiday movies have. It’s an enjoyable but strange little movie that I think everyone should give a try. For me I only had one niggle with the film and that was Christmas Eve felt a lot longer than 24 hours. We’re a good hour into this film and a lot of events have happened in this time leading to the party of a lifetime when suddenly they are all at Chris’ Mum’s house having dinner. This is after a few bars and a few bizarre incidents have happened in chasing down a thief and meeting Mr. Green. Apart from that the movie moves along okay and you will have a laugh or six along the way. Watchable and Recommendable.

All the Way (2016) Movie Review by Kevan McLaughlin

ALL THE WAY.png

Director: Jay Roach
Writers: Robert Schenkkan (teleplay),  Robert Schenkkan (play)
Stars: Bryan Cranston,  Anthony Mackie,  Melissa Leo

Playing lead roles in biopics of Robert Mazur and Dalton Trumbo in The Infiltrator and Trumbo, respectively, hasn’t stopped Bryan Cranston pursuing parts and crafting his considerable talents which require him to transform himself, in spirit, into real-life characters. In All the Way, Cranston encapsulates the 36th President of the United in the harshest and most honest way possible.

Lyndon B Johnson has been portrayed on-screen before, ranging from movies like Forrest Gump to Batman: The Movie, as well as the prestigious Animaniacs. Numerous actors have also played the part including Michael Gambon, Liev Schreiber and, in an upcoming movie, Woody Harrelson. But enough was thought of the Tony-award winning play of the same name, written by the same author (Robert Schenkkan) and enough was thought of Cranston’s portrayal to warrant recreating the effort in HBO’s TV movie.

In the immediate aftermath of JFK’s assassination, hastily sworn in Vice President LBJ takes control of the White House at a particularly tumultuous time. The United States is in the middle of a Cold War with the USSR, the country is still reeling from the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Soviets are winning in the space race, the increasingly unpopular war in Vietnam is raging and the Civil Rights movement is gathering momentum, to which a sizable part of the country are deeply and violently opposed.
The film centres around LBJ’s attempt to push through meaningful civil rights legislation passed a barrage of stubbornness, ignorance and intolerance in Washington. The most notable barrier to a bill being passed is Senator Richard Russell (Langella) of Georgia who, among other Dixiecrats and Good Ol’ Boys, may abandon the party if it succeeds. Their citing of ‘Southern traditions’ are a thinly-veiled smokescreen of contempt for any significant change to the way Black voters are registered in the South.

It seems as though for the bill to come to fruition, LBJ may have to sacrifice the purity of its original intent to secure the votes needed, much to the chagrin of a certain Martin Luther King Jr (Anthony Mackie). MLK, desperately trying to appease a disenfranchised and oppressed people, is vehemently opposed to diluting the original content of the bill with several amendments.

Caught in the middle is LBJ. Trying to do what is right and losing out completely are what’s at stake. Heightened racial tensions and escalating violence towards African Americans for standing up for their beliefs are causing panic in the corridors of power. Further mayhem ensues when three civil rights activists are murdered in Mississippi, prompting the President to trick the Director of the FBI, J Edgar Hoover, into investigating the crime.

There are a number of very interesting aspects investigated throughout All the Way which has never really been explored before on film. Firstly, this is not a fond (or even comfortable) look back at the President. We aren’t emotionally invested in the character. He’s brash, bullying and mostly unpleasant. But that’s kinda the point. Cinema is littered with affectionate portrayals of history’s greatest men and women. Here, we aren’t emotionally in the character’s character, but in his beliefs. And that’s only right. LBJ is not remembered with the affection history has for JFK, the admiration for Lincoln or the stoicism of FDR. Johnson, in his own words, is America’s “accidental President”.

Bryan Cranston is becoming something of a master of playing real-life characters. He excelled in both the Infiltrator and Trumbo, the latter of which saw him embodying the persona. And that’s what we’re getting here. Much like Michael Sheen’s turns as Kenneth Williams, Tony Blair, Brian Clough and David Frost, this isn’t a performance or an impression of a man. He becomes LBJ, not by imitating the accent or wearing the glasses, but by affecting his mannerisms and being as dismissive and blunt as the real man through his body language, not the memorised words from the script.
Martin Luther King Jr is often portrayed as a confident, statesmen-like character (and quite rightly), seldom wavering from his beliefs and always knowing the right path. Anthony Mackie’s performance here is something quite different. He shows us a vulnerable MLK. Here he’s unsure, conflicted and more than a little lost. It would be a tragic understatement to say that it was a brave choice, by both the actor and director, to pursue this path. Mackie brings us a realism that’s so often overlooked in real-life portrayals.

The film also does something rather unique. It connects the dots cinematically, if not historically. Mississippi Burning, Selma, JFK and Jackie are just a few of the films where we know the story of everything else about such a tumultuous time is US history. This is the story that isn’t often told. Maybe it was deemed less poignant than the senseless and hate-filled motives of the murder of three people who protested for a better world. And it might be fair that LBJ’s story be overshadowed by that of the events in Selma. However, this is the story that needed to be told. The bigotry at that time wasn’t confined to Mississippi or Alabama. It was also in Washington. It was in the beliefs held by Senators, Governors and Judges.
Why this film was made at this time may be of note to some who might see comparisons between then and now. That’s not for this reviewer to say.